Art

Basmah Qazi

Alan Jones’ rare admission of regret: “They merit an apology by me”

Alan Jones’ rare admission of regret: “They merit an apology by me”

Alan Jones is not one to regret his actions very often.

But during his appearance on Anh Do’s Brush With Fame, the controversial 2GB broadcaster expressed his remorse over his distasteful comments regarding former prime minister Julia Gillard.

In 2011, Jones took aim at Gillard on his show by saying she should be “put in a chaff bag” and thrown into sea.

He then issued a half-hearted apology as he addressed the National Press Club, saying, “Sometimes in the heat of what you’re doing – you’re going at a 100 miles per hour – these things are said.

“We don’t always say things that are right, we don’t always say things that are fair, (but) we should try to.”

But that wasn’t the end of it, as Jones’ most disgraceful comment came a year after the first, shortly after the death of Gillard’s father.

Joking at a private Sydney University Liberal club dinner, the host said: “Every person in the caucus of the Labor Party knows that Julia Gillard is a liar, everybody. I will come to that in a moment. The old man recently died a few weeks ago of shame. To think that he has a daughter who told lies every time she stood for parliament.”

He then insinuated that Gillard was ahead in the polls due to her heartfelt speech dedicated to her father, John.

“Of course she’s ahead in preferred prime minister (polls),” he said. “She cries because her father died, she’s on the news every day.”

His derogatory comments were secretly recorded by a journalist, who leaked the audio to the public. It didn’t take long for public outrage to take place.

The media shock jock was condemned from both sides of parliament, with the then opposition leader, Tony Abbott, saying, “Alan’s remarks regarding the PM were completely out of line.”

Former Foreign Minister, Bob Carr said: “I’ve heard indecent things in politics but never something as thoroughly indecent as this.”

The country was furious, and they made sure Jones knew, as a petition for him to be sacked received over 35,000 signatures. Macquarie Radio also suffered after sponsors distanced themselves from the network resulting in a loss of $1.5 million.

Jones then issued an apology during a press conference, saying, “The comments were, in the light of everything, unacceptable. They merit an apology by me.”

He added: “I spoke without notes for 58 minutes (at the Young Liberals dinner), I have no idea the material that I covered.

“I just say it as I see it. It was a raucous night, and everyone was into it. But that’s not an explanation, not an excuse.”

When asked about the incident on Anh’s Brush With Fame, Jones revealed that a man had made the “joke” about Gillard’s dad to him before he made the comment himself.

“I just repeated the story,” he said. “It wasn’t my joke.”

He then said the comment should never have seen the light of day in the first place.

“A person has got himself into this private gathering, secretly recorded my speech, which is against the law, a criminal offence, but because it was Alan Jones no one cared about that,” he told Do.

“When it became public, I rang Julia (Gillard) and she didn’t take my call. I publicly apologised and I legitimately apologised.

“I’m not apologising for the fact that I said it because it was said privately and you can’t withdraw any of that, it’s done. But at the same time, the fact that it was made public and had the potential to hurt her feelings and all the rest of it, then you’re obligated to offer an apology and that apology was sincere.

“I think you always regret if you visit hurt upon anybody, that’s not what you’ve got the power of the microphone to do.”

Jones told Do that since the entire event unfolded, he has not spoken to Gillard but hopes to resolve whatever tension the two have between them.

“We had good relationships before that, and I hope one day I’ll be able to speak to her and say, ‘Listen, I’m sorry about it. I didn’t intend it the way you saw it,’” Jones said.

Anh’s Brush with Fame airs Wednesdays at 8 pm on the ABC and ABC iview.